Four time Paralympian John Fulham was last night elected unopposed as the next President of Paralympics Ireland at the AGM, with his four-year term commencing immediately. Limerick native Fulham succeeds Jimmy Gradwell who had served two successive terms spanning eight years.
Fulham competed successfully for Ireland at four Paralympic Games from Barcelona 1992 through to Athens 2004 as a wheelchair racer over 100m and 200m, with European and national titles to his name, as well as being a three time winner of the Dublin marathon.
The forty-five year old who works for the Irish Wheelchair Association, also played on the Irish wheelchair basketball team for fourteen years. Upon retirement from athletics he was appointed to the board of the organisation acting as communications officer for many years, moving into the role of Vice President in 2013.
Addressing the members on the night a delighted Fulham said: “Having been involved in the Irish Paralympic movement as both a competitor and an official for thirty years I have a unique understanding of the landscape. While considerable success and progress has been achieved to date I believe we need to work hard together to ensure our people; athletes, coaches and officials continue to be given the best support in their preparations, while also ensuring that disability sport in Ireland continues to grow.”
Serving Vice President and double Paralympian in the sport of table tennis Eimear Breathnach was re-elected as Vice President for another term. Irish Wheelchair Association Sport nominee Mairéad Farquharson, who has been involved as a volunteer in various capacities for many years and previously served on the board, was elected as second Vice President.
Outgoing President Jimmy Gradwell gave a comprehensive account on the year just past that saw an Irish team win eleven medals at the 2016 Games, while also reflecting on his tenure in the role. Drogheda native Gradwell served an eight year term which saw much success and development for the organisation which he pointed to in his well-received final address.
“Since my time as President in 2009 so many things have been achieved. I’ve been privileged to watch tremendous Irish athletes win a staggering 27 Paralympic medals, twelve of which were gold. We have seen a substantial increase in investment from Sport Ireland over time, grown the organisation from four to ten staff, won the support of commercial partners, achieved an international voice, and seen our athletes and their performance become mainstream in terms of media coverage and public awareness, amongst numerous other elements of note.”
He concluded; “I’m greatly encouraged by the progress we’ve made. Naturally there will be challenges ahead but as a collective we can continue to push forward the Paralympic agenda in Ireland and increase support for the athletes. I wish John, the incoming board and CEO; Miriam Malone the very best of luck as they chart this great organisations path over the coming years. I treasure the memories of an amazing time as President.”
The 2016 Annual Report of Paralympics Ireland was approved by the members on the site and is available to download on www.paralympics.ie